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Bajrang Punia accuses NADA of supplying expired kits for sample tests

Bajrang took to social media to explain his side of the story after reports emerged that he had been provisionally suspended by NADA for failing to submit the samples.

Bajrang Punia accuses NADA of supplying expired kits for sample tests

Wrestler Bajrang Punia. (FILE PHOTO)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 7 May 2024 7:50 AM GMT

Star wrestler Bajrang Punia accused the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) of providing him with expired kits for his sample tests.

Reports emerged on Sunday that the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist has been provisionally suspended by the NADA for failing to submit his urine sample during the selection trials at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Sonipat on March 10.

Unless the suspension is annulled, the 65kg weight category wrestler Bajrang, who is looking forward to sealing his Paris Olympics berth, will not be allowed to compete at the selection trials scheduled for June.

So far, no India could win a 2024 Paris Olympics quota place in the 65kg weight category. At the trials in Sonipat, Bajrang suffered a loss to Rohit 9-1 in the semifinal. After the defeat, he left the venue immediately and didn’t turn up for the third-fourth place deciding bout.

With Punia suspended, Sujeet Kalkal will represent India in the weight class at the World Olympic Qualifiers scheduled for May 9 in Istanbul, Turkey.

As the reports of his suspension spread like wildfire, Punia posted a video on X, explaining why he had refused to give the samples. He also emphasised that he is ready to give the samples.

Expired kits

The 30-year-old alleged that the dope control officer (DCO) gave him expired kits for his out-of-competition test in December last year.

“I want to clarify the news about me being asked to take a dope test!!! I never refused to give my sample to NADA officials, I requested them to first answer me as to what action they took on the expired kits they brought to take my sample (earlier) and then take my dope test. My lawyer Vidush Singhania will reply to this letter in time,” Bajrang posted on X.

“This is a very important video for all of us to watch and ponder over. How can one trust the system if the process is not followed. How can one be sure that there is no manipulation in the entire process," Bajrang asked.

The wrestler has also planned to drag the NADA to the court.

“We need to access the case file. We will be filing a reply to the NADA notice soon," Bajrang’s lawyer Vidushpat Singhania said.

Paris Olympic qualification under threat

Bajrang will also have to appear before a disciplinary panel when the hearing begins, a process that could take weeks if not months to complete, potentially jeopardising his Paris Olympics qualifying process.

Interestingly, NADA issued the letter of Bajrang's suspension to the now-dissolved ad-hoc committee, which was in charge of wrestling during the UWW imposed ban on the Sanjay Singh-led Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). The UWW lifted the ban on the WFI in February.

Bajrang was one of the prominent faces of the protest against former WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, who has been accused of sexual harassment by six women wrestlers, along with Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat.

As a mark of protest against the government's inaction against Brij Bhushan, Bajrang also returned his Padma Shri award.

The protest affected the wrestler's training and preparations.

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